My first day of school was in September of 1953 when my mom brought me to kindergarten. She stayed a while and left. I wonder if I cried. It must have been a terrifying day for me. I was deposited into the land of strange, needy, new lives. It was a time when the need for friendship was to take some new twists in an unknown territory. I was to learn a lot of things. I know I went there not consciously looking for friendship but within a day or two it became a top priority. I needed friendship to get through those early storms of life.
There were a lot of kids and there was the teacher, Mrs. Temple. Mrs. Temple was a white lady. The kids were of many colors. And they were of different religions, too, though I did not think about that then. It did not matter then – but it sure was to matter later. It did not seem to matter to Mrs. Temple. Looking back, I think that was good. Maybe she was some sort of prophetess.
It was the
I soon made friends and was to discover that this world is inhabited by the good and the bad, fast and the slow, the strong and the weak, the secure and the jealous, scoundrels and villains and heroes and rascals. These and more were evidenced in my first year of involvement with the human race at large, in small sizes.
It is now 2006. I am in a monastery. It is a Saturday. My sister dropped me off here twelve years ago. She did not stay. She left right away. I think I cried then, too.
There are a lot of men here. Our abbot is a white man. We call ourselves brothers and we are of different colors, just like it was in the
There are no shorts allowed here but we can and do wear nice shoes.
We use magic markers for our big announcement board. It is the feast of John the Baptist, who was a very close friend of Jesus. We will have soda and maybe cookies for lunch. We will hear stories later and they will be read to us. We sing every day but do not clap too much. The floors here are huge. Some are shiny and some are not. It is all planned out and I had nothing to do with it. I just have to show up and behave myself.
This place is called the
It is a rich life here. I soon made friends and was to discover that this world is inhabited by the good and the bad, the fast and the slow, the strong and the weak, the secure and the jealous, scoundrels and villains and heroes and rascals. These and more were evidenced in my forty-sixth year of involvement with the human race at large, in larger and monastic sizes.
Things do not change all that much.
It may rain today – another storm. One of many in life.
I think we sang about Mr. Sun in kindergarten. The sun is good – I learned that a long time ago. Something about taking both the sun and the rain in life. Both are good, though the sunny days are better.
I was thinking about friendship this morning, very early, while in the church with everybody. We were chanting the psalms and as I looked about me my heart felt good at first – I looked at Chaminade and Augustine and Guerric and Ed and Eutropius and Mark and some others and pondered their being my friends. But the more I pondered, the more I wondered if I have been a good friend to them. I have a feeling I could think about that all day long and may find, at the end of a day of such thinking, that I am still hoping to be a good friend, like at the
Is the heart ever settled?
I hope I am living well my restlessness.
Friendship is a gift. When it comes, it opens your heart so much that you want to share all you have and are with your friend.
I think that is what God did and does for us through Jesus. God became our friend and walks in friendship with everybody. He has been a good friend to me my whole life, for he has come to me through many friendships all these years.
And there is the rub.
I hope I have been a good friend to him. I know how easily friendship can be taken for granted, even damaged, abused, forgotten.
Jesus asks that we lay down our lives for each other in friendship, in service, in love. It is not an easy thing to do. It is easy to write about but not easy to live.
I like my friends here in this last school of my life. It is a life that offers many ways to befriend God and each other.
After many years of reading and writing, traveling and being, uh, religious, the bottom line was right there in my midst in the
Bottom lines are bottom because they do not change.
The line has not changed an iota. And it is a line that has been drawn all through the years of my life.
And this is what the line says: Learn friendship and learn God.
The line comes every day.
It came a long time ago, with the ginger snaps and lemonade.
It is coming, too, this day, with the soda and cake and Eucharist.
It is all planned out and I had nothing to do with it. I just have to show up and behave myself.
With my friends. Rain or shine.